“Destination Me” – reconceiving tourism amidst and post Covid-19 era || Geo Routes addresses travelers’ novel behaviors regarding safety, security and privacy

article by Giannis Balakakis, Chair, Geo Routes Cultural Institute

Athens, 28/5/2020

No doubt travel, tourism and events are among the most affected sectors around the world, while scenarios estimate frictions in revenues (up to 1 trillion USD), in international arrivals (up to 1 billion travelers) and job losses (up to 120 million) during 2020 and most probably 2021. Meanwhile, states and industry professionals urge to unlock tourism  while focusing on sector’s recovery the soonest possible. Yet, one critical factor tends to remain unknown in this puzzle for the near-future: ‘How will travelers’ novel behaviors be towards safety, security and privacy amidst and post Covid-19 era?’ This is the challenging bet for the survival and rapid recovery of the industry.

We at Geo Routes understand the changing face in the future of travel and the rising need for personal space and launched “Destination Me“; a customers centered solution for people who are seeking to explore, experience and being part with the ‘most pure’ side of Greece in safety, security and privacy.

Geo Routes “Destination Me” effective July 1st 2020 will feature:

  • All the 30 cultural heritage journeys of Geo Routes to Athens and Greece – held under the auspices of the H.N.C. for UNESCO- are turning into private. Any journey is only for couples (2 persons) and families/friends (up to 6 persons), in which no other traveler is allowed to mix with the small groups.
  • The overnights at multi-day trips are in premium hotels, mansions etc, most of them below 20 rooms.
  • All journeys include in-depth visits by licensed tour guides, who safeguarding travelers’ social distancing measures.
  • Experienced chauffeurs and solely private transportation by cars, vans or mini-buses, is disposed to travelers.
  • Nearly all journeys focus on rural areas and the legends of Greece, facilitating intercultural dialogue and contributing to the sustainable development of the local societies.
  • No groups scheduled departures will be available (groups only possible to corporate or associations).

How Geo Routes reads tourists’ near-future perceptions?

In 2011, first ever in Greece, Geo Routes launched cultural heritage tourism as a key for sustainable development. Furthermore with 35 years under our belt, we keep on working, brainstorming and analyzing trends, challenges, risks and opportunities across travel and events’ industries. About tourists’ perceptions related to Covid-19, and the impact of those perceptions on future travel decisions, we estimate the following trends and aspects to appear; among which no. 1-9 below were considered for launching “Destination Me“:

  • Travelers’ increased awareness about the cleanliness, hygiene and safety standards at places visited
  • Travelers’ rising consciousness for (social) distancing and privacy throughout the journey
  • Positive demand for boutique services and personalized experiences; group travel is expected to shrink
  • Need for real-time information on course of the journey and upfront about the destination
  • Nature, slightly isolated areas & open-air activities are of increasing appeal over crowded favorites of yore
  • Road-trips with private automobiles may be greatly favored; such travelers may increase near-city vacations
  • Adventure in food (Asian, Indian etc) may take a beating; Mediterranean cuisine opts increased market shares
  • Experiences may prevail over the physical; people may surface as reasons to holiday, but holiday differently
  • Industry may take anything up to 24 months to start climbing back to previous peaks. Till then the headwinds will be strong and severe
  • Increased levels of travel anxiety and concern; fears of infection or ‘stuck’ away from home
  • Priority to domestic and short-haul escapes; overseas journeys or densely populated areas are avoided
  • Flying becomes unpleasable as health-checks get added to check-in routines, enhancing the wait at airports
  • Business travel adjusts rapidly from in person meetings to teleconferencing communication
  • Physical travelling can never be replaced by digital travelling
  • School trips may dry up and be curtailed out of fear for safety of the kids, rather than affordability
  • Air travel may become more expensive and airline tickets will go sky-high
  • Cruises may be shunned for a while; the flow is going to move into unchartered waters for some time
  • Service providers may cease to be arrogant and inflexible to customers; series of offers & freebies are expected

About Geo Routes Cultural Institute

Geo Routes Cultural Institute, a nonprofit & nongovernmental organization, is planning, developing and providing cultural heritage journeys and events of cultural, environmental and educational character in Greece and beyond.

In Greece, Geo Routes eco & cultural journeys highlight cultural heritage, facilitate intercultural dialogue, foster welfare while contributing to the development of rural societies. Geo Routes journeys are held under the auspices of the HNC for UNESCO and since 2013 are acclaimed as UNESCO “best practice” in the framework of the programme Culture-Tourism-Development.

Furthermore, Geo Routes is owner and official organizor of the leading international conferences, the Balkans & Black Sea Cooperation Forum and the AgriBusiness Forum.


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Agriculture & Environment: present & near-future crucial storylines

May 2020

Agriculture & Environment: present & near-future crucial storylines


A) European agriculture new face in the coming years

  • In 2018 Italy lost about 57% of its olive production while Spain followed in 2019, when drought compromised 44% of its production
  • In Sicily, tropical fruit crops, eg. mangoes, papayas or lychees have become part of landscape
  • At least 22 mio EU farmers & workers in agriculture are directly exposed to climate extremes, while 44 mio food-related jobs may also feel their impacts
  • In Spain, 64.7% of farmers have already changed how they managed crops, especially the use of water
  • Farmland value is projected to decrease by more than 80% by 2100 in some regions in southern Europe.
  • Food security is a global concern while the effect of climate on agriculture cannot be isolated to a single country or region


B) Strong impact of climate change on future crops

  • 2019 was the 5th in a series of exceptionally warm years and the 2nd warmest year globally ever recorded
  • In 2010, the summer heatwave in Russia compromised 30 % of its grain harvest
  • Last decade, weather and climate extreme events linked to climate change, have cost Italy’s agriculture and rural infrastructure about 14 billion €
  • If global temperatures increase by 2°C, rising water deficits in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Spain will push up demand for irrigation water between 4 and 18 % by 2100; Scandinavia and Turkey will face harsher droughts
  • In the north, although the growing season may increase, new pests and diseases can jeopardize the potential for higher crop yields


C) The future of waste

  • Humans waste roughly 30% of their food, at a cost of 1 trillion USD a year, while 10% of people go hungry around the world
  • Plastic waste in the sea could outweigh fish by 2050 if current practices continue. Such meaning the oceans will contain at least 937 million tons of plastic vs 895 million tons of fish by 2050
  • As only 14% of world’s plastics be recycled, there is huge business space of approx. 80 billion USD per year from avoiding the production of so many new plastics from scratch


Source (A,B): EEA – (C): UBS